Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hold your NaNoWriMo horses!

Today is the kickoff of NaNoWriMo! It's the actual birthday of many novels, some of which will sell to publishers and be on the shelves in another few years. I can almost feel all the creative juices flowing through the universe today, and I'm very excited that my daughter's high school creative writing class is participating!

I personally have never officially participated in NaNoWriMo, but unofficially, I've done it twice. The second time was two years ago when my agent was on submission with Personal Demons to editors. I wrote the sequel, Original Sin. But the first time was three years ago, just after I first started writing. I wrote a novel that is still one of my favorites called Dusty Lane. And then I did what many of you will do. I made the mistake of querying it on December 1st.

I queried a handful of agents and got five manuscript requests. I was in HEAVEN! My novel was the BEST and it was going to sell at auction to a fabulous publisher. But, here's the thing.

It didn't.

When you've written an actual novel, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it holds together and makes sense, there's this HUGE sense of accomplishment. You are (rightly) so proud of what you've done that you want to share it with the world. Like I said, I LOVED Dusty. I still hope that someday I might see it in a shiny cover on a shelf with other books. But, the day after I finished the first draft was really not the time to be sending it out into the world. Your novel is going to need some nurturing, some TLC, to become the novel it's capable of being.

As you might expect, the five agents who requested Dusty ended up passing. But the next novel I wrote did end up selling at auction because I gave it time to grow into the best novel it could be before querying it. So, here's my NaNoWriMo advice. Think of your pudgy pink baby novel at the end of NaNoWriMo as 250 pages of POTENTIAL. Give it the love and nurturing it needs to flourish and mature. When it's all grown up, then and only then, consider sending it out into the world.

Best of luck to all you brave souls participating!


  1. LOL, the novel I'm about to turn in to my agent for a second round of submission started as a NaNo novel. In 2008! I didn't meet my word goal, and it took me until February 2009 to finish the first draft.

    So yeah. NaNo novels need time and lots of work to grow into something salable. Good post!

  2. I am hoping to finish, it is my first year. I have written several books already, but never queried. So I figure I will be giving it TLC and time to grow in December and January and by next spring it will be all grown up and ready to leave the nest!

  3. Such great advice! Don't rush, let your work be the best it can be.

  4. I agree, you work so hard writing you really do need to give your novel the best possible chance by giving it plenty of TLC :)

  5. Thank you for this post! You have hit on both the heart of NaNoWriMo, and the reality of what to do after November, and I really appreciate that.

  6. Yes! I love this advice :) Great, great post!!

  7. GREAT advice, and I absolutely LOVE that picture! :-)

  8. This is definitely great advice! Thank you. I imagine that at the end of 30 days you haven't even had a chance to really read the novel you've written with those daily writing sprints, let alone have had time to let someone else read it!